Online system makes police reports easier

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Reporting crime in Cranston is now just a few clicks away.

The Cranston Police Department recently unveiled a new Online Police Reporting System that allows affected residents to file non-emergency police reports online. Major Todd Patalano said that the innovation serves a two-fold purpose.

“Number one, it’s more of a convenience for the public in making police reports, when they’re not an emergency, online from anywhere,” Patalano said. “With that, it also allows us to free up officers and have them out in the community more where they’re more visible, out preventing crime by their mere presence and being available in the event of an emergency where we can devote as many resources as possible.”

The OPRS, which can be found at www.cranstonpoliceri.com, is part of a growing trend across the country, Patalano said. Pawtucket has implemented a similar system for its residents as well.

According to CPD’s press release, nearly one-third of the 82,000 calls it receives per year could be handled through the online feature. However, any incident that occurs on a state freeway is not eligible to be reported in the new system.

Patalano offered a few examples of its uses, ranging from potholes that need filling to abandoned vehicles, but there is one area in particular that could see a bevy of reports.

“One of the things that we’ve seen so far is identity theft. It’s becoming a very big problem,” Patalano said. “With identity theft, there’s really no suspects, and if they are they’re either overseas or out-of-state and basically it’s very hard to identify a suspect without extensive work. First thing they’re told is to put a police report on file and complete that part of the process in identity theft detection.”

Patalano said the system has already seen some traction, and it can only increase. Homeowners can file police reports for the fraudulent use of credit cards, while vandalism and harassing phone calls also fit the bill.

The OPRS can become even more effective during the holiday season when packages are swiped from in front of people’s homes. In order to pursue the case, any parcel service requires a police report.

Now, people can expedite that process on the web while officers use the excess time to patrol the streets.

“Even if we have 5 percent of those calls that are identity theft, potholes, etc., if we handle 5 percent of that, that’s 3,000 or 4,000 calls,” Patalano said. “Those officers will instead be out responding to emergencies. It’s added personnel on the streets. It provides convenience to city residents and business owners.”

While the main intent was to make life easier for Cranston’s citizens, the ripple effect is felt through CPD as well.

“Whether it be enforcement or our mere presence, it allows us to be a more effective police department,” Patalano said.

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